Greek C-Section Rates Dwarf International Limit

A Greek lawmaker has produced WHO figures which show an alarmingly high number of women here give birth through cesarean section — well over the internationally recommended amount.

Nikos Manios, a lawmaker for the ruling SYRIZA party, produced the figures in parliament showing that in 2017, Greek C-sections reached 56.8 percent nationally.

The maximum allowable limit advised by the WHO is 15 percent.

Manios showed shocking figures for certain regions of Greece, where C-section-aided deliveries are rampant. For instance, in Agrinio, 83 percent of women gave birth by C-section; on the island of Syros the figure was 69 percent.

Health Minister Andreas Xanthos admitted in parliament that the figures were great cause for concern. He said that the enormous number of C-section childbirths not only multiply the risks for pregnant women, but are a great financial drain on the national health system.

Xanthos attributed the figures to the fact that C-section deliveries are less painful and most women prefer to organize the delivery timeframe. For doctors, Xanthos admitted, the money incentive is a determining factor.

He promised that the health ministry will take measures to reverse the situation, adding that the role of midwives will be upgraded and strengthened with recent legislation.

The health minister said that hospitals and maternity clinics are instructed to comply with  international protocol, and doctors should document and justify the need for a C-section in each case.

Manios insisted that hospital administrators also check the expenses for C-sections. He said that it is impossible that out of 12 deliveries per day in a public hospital, 11 of them are considered to be in need of a C-section. He gave the example of clinics that had 80 percent of deliveries by caesarean section and all accompanied by invoices for complications.

The SYRIZA lawmaker also insisted that there had been a lot of mismanagement of funds allocated to deliveries in public hospitals.